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  1. Why are the Pirates ahead of the Padres? Is it simply because their best player will be on the team for the next five years while Gonzalez will most likely be on the Padres for two more seasons at the max? I think most would say that the Padres minor league system is better and they have shown that they will spend more money on payroll than the Pirates (not that is really saying anything). Is it just that the NL West is stronger than the NL Central?

    Comment by Tom — March 17, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

  2. Similar question versus the Nats … apart from the mention that one plays in the much easier Central, why are they a number of spots ahead (considering that the articles mentioned quantity instead of quality in their prospects, only one — or maybe two — plus position players, and nothing now or in the future of note on their pitching staff … ?

    Comment by William — March 17, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

  3. The Padres don’t have anyone like McCutchen, nor do they have the young pitching that the Pirates do. But, again, as I mentioned in the kick-off, don’t get too caught up in teams that are just a few spots apart. There’s not a drastic difference between Pittsburgh and San Diego – neither are likely to win any time soon.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — March 17, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  4. I’d much rather have the Pirates front office than the Washington front office, and I think the Pirates are a better team right now, playing in an easier division. Like I mentioned above, though, all these teams are basically in the same boat.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — March 17, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  5. Are you using the same criteria to grade as last year? Meaning that the #1 team is the most likely to win the World Series and #30 is the least likely? Or is this just more a rank of who will win the most games over the next two to three years?

    Comment by Tom — March 17, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  6. That was never the criteria.

    The rankings reflect our perspective on how likely the team is to win now and sustain that going forward, based on their talent level (both major and minor league), the quality of their management staff (including ownership), and their financial flexibility.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — March 17, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  7. The Pirates did not have a choice of “quality vs. quantity” for their past-their-prime expiring contracts. They were even in a hard spot with Bay because everyone knew he would test free-agency in a year and two months.

    Even with McLouth, if they could have gotten Jair Jurrjens (or some other “quality”) then I’m sure they would have done it. The jury still seems out on whether they should have kept him. I might lean that they should have, but not by a lot.

    Overall, it hasn’t been a badly executed plan even if they’re not getting blue-chip prospects. Not great, but not awful.

    Also regarding Fangraphs hero and former Pirate Nyjer Morgan…his huge UZR with the Bucs in left field had a lot to do with Pirates positioning. When Milledge came over and played in the same spot, his UZR/150 was 16.4. (granted a small sample size) I’d expect Morgan to not do as well next year as the sample size increases, although he has become a much better player than I imagined even at this time a year ago.

    Comment by Adam Reynolds — March 17, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  8. Agreed with Dave here. The Pirates recognize they aren’t winning and are trying out their young talent to see who sticks. The Nats, on the other hand, seem to be taking a direction similar to the Pirates of the mid-2000′s. Their recent signings show they are not willing to go with young players and rather fill in stopgap veterans at market prices, guys who won’t even really improve their team’s current performance.

    Comment by Michael — March 17, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

  9. If a miracle were to happen in the NL it is far more likely to happen to the Pirates in the near future than to the Padres.

    Comment by mowill — March 17, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

  10. If Morgan’s UZR in left was due to positioning and not talent, you’d have expected it to go way down when he moved to CF in Washington. Instead, it went way up.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — March 17, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  11. To be fair, you’d actually be wise to expect that anything could happen to his UZR in 40 or 50 games, and you’d be wise to expect, as Adam Reynolds does, that his UZR will regress next year as the sample grows.

    Comment by e poc — March 17, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  12. For me, that just adds to the sample size issue. We’ll see if my inclination is right with a full season of Nationals data for him.

    Comment by Adam Reynolds — March 17, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  13. Also I think you’re undercutting Clement as just a “platoon” first baseman. Look at what’s on 1B this year on the Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Athletics, Rangers, White Sox, Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Nationals (due to defense). That’s almost half the league, and my inclination is he can put up full-season numbers better than the major league first basemen in these organizations and is still young. (I left out the Mariners because they will platoon) Maybe, maybe not, but too early to write off as a starter IMO.

    Comment by Adam Reynolds — March 17, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  14. I don’t think Clement’s bat plays at 1B at all. Even though he cannot handle it defensively, his only shot at being a regular is trying to catch.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to take Loney, Adam LaRoche, Chris Davis, Konerko, Branyan, Glaus, Morrison (assuming he wins the job) and Dunn over Clement.

    Comment by jar75 — March 17, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

  15. With the exception of Dunn, Clement’s projected (CHONE) wOBA is within .010 of all the players you mention. Is there some reason beyond the projections that makes you doubt Clement’s bat?

    Comment by e poc — March 17, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  16. I think the CHONE projection is optimistic. He’s played his entire career in the PCL and hasn’t exactly improved from season to season. His K and BB rates both got a bit worse last year (K: 23%; BB: 10.3%). And you also have to take into account how easily Seattle dumped him. Jack Wilson is a valuable player, but he wasn’t exactly a bargain. If Seattle thought Clement could hit enough to be a league average first baseman, I don’t think that he would have been sent packing so quickly considering that they don’t have anyone entrenched there.

    His MLE for 2009 (per minorleaguesplits) was .240/.303/.410 and I think that’s much closer to the truth than the projection.

    I’m just not sure why Clement is lauded as a significantly better player than Steve Pearce. I don’t think either has enough bat to be a competent starter (they may be league average as a platoon).

    Comment by jar75 — March 18, 2010 @ 10:56 am

  17. Last year, the Pirates were actually winners, at home, against teams OUTSIDE their division. It was the other three “quadrants,” home games against division rivals, and away games, against everyone, where they lost.

    Comment by Tom Au — March 18, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  18. @jar75

    Might just be that Clement has a much higher ceiling than Pearce, and roughly the same floor.

    Comment by Andy — March 18, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

  19. Jeff Clement is 26, do you really expect him to get much better than he is right now? And if you do, why couldn’t the same be said about Pearce? Is it because Clement was an early first round pick 5 years ago?

    Comment by jar75 — March 19, 2010 @ 10:30 am

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